First served at Gaspare Campari's bar, Caffè Campari, in the 1860s, the Americano was originally referred to as the 'Milano-Torino' in reference to the ingredients - Campari originated in Milano, while the first sweet vermouth was produced by Antonio Carpano in Torino. It is suggested that the name may have been coined as a compliment to visiting Americans who particularly enjoyed the refreshing cocktail.
The origins of the Dry Martini are clouded at best. While classic combinations of gin and vermouth are plentiful in early cocktail literature, the glass of gin with a mere hint of dry vermouth that we know today was not listed until much later. While it's widely believed the modern Dry Martini has roots in the Turf Club Cocktail, The Martine or the Martinez, it's seemingly impossible to pin down when, where and by whom this iconic mix was developed.
Named for Felix Kir, Mayor of Dijon in the mid-20th century and proponent of local products, the Kir Royale (and wine-based sibling, the Kir) were an effective means to promote local crème de cassis and white wine in the aftermath of World War II. While the combination of wine and crème de cassis was known prior to Kirs involvement, it has been suggested that the combination was strongly endorsed as a means to cover the lacklustre wine produced in the region in a less than stellar period for local vineyards.
It has been suggested that, in the late 16th century, a combination of rum, lime, sugar and mint was named Draquecito in honour of notorious privateer Sir Francis Drake, who may have enjoyed the concoction as created by a member of his crew for its medicinal properties.
Moving forward some 300 years, the first reference to the Mojito Batido - a very similar drink, but served over ice and topped with sparkling water - appeared in print around 1910 and was served at La Concha in Havana, eventually brought to international attention at La Bodeguita del Medio (another of Hemingway's favoured haunts).
Though not quite a household name today, as noted by Harry Johnson in the 1888 edition of his “Bartender’s Manual”, the cobbler was at the time 'without doubt the most popular beverage in the country, with ladies as well as with gentlemen'.
David Wondrich suggests in “Imbibe!” (2007) that consumption of the Cobbler was likely the first common instance of drinking through a straw, and with the early references to the Cobbler occurring not long after the early days of commercial ice trade in North America, it is probable that the Cobbler was also among the earliest drinks to be widely consumed over ice.
The origin of the Blood Mary is surrounded by conflicting claims. In his autobiography “The World I Lived In” (1975), celebrity and performer George Jessel claims to have created the Bloody Mary in 1927, but Ferdinand 'Pete' Petiot - the man most widely believed to have been the originator - while partially acknowledging Jessel's claim, suggests that there is more to the story, claiming in a 1964 interview with “The New Yorker” 'George Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over'.
Published in Charles H. Baker's The Gentleman’s Companion (1939), the Gin Fizz Tropical takes inspiration from a 'New Orleans Fizz' (Ramos Gin Fizz). Baker was introduced to this recipe while on a canoe journey down the Pagsanjan River in Manila, Philippines. The recipe here is gently adjusted, replacing heavy cream with Orgeat syrup.
The Last Word was created at the Detroit Athletic Club, most likely in the 1910s. This first reference to the Last Word appears in a 1916 “Souvenir Menu” included with the July-August 1916 issue of the club magazine, though no recipe was listed. Fortunately, a vaudevillian performer by the name of Frank Fogarty was served the cocktail when visiting the club sometime around 1920 and introduced it to Ted Saucier, who seems to have saved the Last Word from being lost by publishing it in “Bottoms Up” (1951).
Thought to have been first published in Jerry Thomas' “How to Mix Drinks” (1862), the Fish House Punch dates back to the 1730s, when it was prepared by members of the Schuylkill Fishing Company (which remains among the oldest continuously operating social clubs in the Western world)
While there are stories suggesting that the first published mention of the Whiskey Sour was in “The Waukesha Plaindealer”, published January 4th 1870, the drink was in fact referenced in Jerry Thomas’ “How to Mix Drinks” (1862) some years before. While this may be the earliest written reference, it is suggested that the Whiskey Sour likely existed in some form for as long as a century by the time it was mentioned in print - hardly surprising, considering the simplicity of the recipe!
Often considered to be a cousin to the more widely known Negroni, the Boulevardier in fact pre-dates its famous Italian cousin by two decades. Although the original Boulevardier recipe as published in Harry McElhone’s “ABC of Mixing Cocktails” (1925) features equal parts Canadian whiskey, Campari and vermouth, he later references the cocktail again in “Barflies and Cocktails” (1927), but this time with Bourbon whiskey in place of Canadian whiskey. Though published by McElhone, he attributes creation of the Boulevardier to Erskine Gwynne, a wealthy American living in Paris who founded a magazine called “The Boulevardier” and was a regular at The New York Bar.
Created at El Floridita in Havana, Cuba, in honour of Ernest Hemingway - a regular guest at the bar, whose cocktail consumption was legendary amongst staff and drinking companions. Hemingway preferred his drinks un-sugared and very strong, claiming that sweet drinks were harder to consume in large volumes.
A widespread legend suggests that the Manhattan was created for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill’s mother, at New York’s Manhattan Club to celebrate Samuel J. Tilden’s election as governor in 1874. This tale is compromised by records indicating that Lady Churchill was in England, far along in her pregnancy with the future Sir Winston, and was not mentioned in the press as having attended the soiree. Despite the doubtful nature of this tale, there are historical indications that the Manhattan cocktail may indeed have originated at the Manhattan Club around this period.
Though the Sazerac was likely known in some form from the mid-19th century, the earliest published reference to the drink we now know was published in “The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them” (1908) by William T. "Cocktail Bill" Boothby, based on a recipe by Thomas Handy, proprietor of The Sazerac House during the late 1800s.
Invented by Harry MacElhone at Ciro's Club, London, the original recipe for the White Lady called for Cointreau, crème de menthe and lemon juice. Published in Harry's “ABC of Mixing Cocktails” (1925), this recipe - with a foundation of two liqueurs and no spirit – defies conventional wisdom, offering layers of sweetness in place of the balanced profile preferred in most sour-style cocktails. A few years later, McElhone had relocated to Paris and was plying his trade at The New York Bar (which he later took over and renamed Harry’s New York Bar). It was here where he seemingly came to his senses, refining the recipe by replacing the crème de menthe with gin. Not long after this, Harry Craddock included a recipe for a White Lady comprising gin, Cointreau and lemon juice in the “Savoy Cocktail Book” (1930), ensuring that while the White Lady will always be associated with a Harry, accounts tend to diverge on which was the responsible party.